After The Multiverse, The Controversy: Israeli Superheroine Sabra Fever The Arab World

Many netizens say they are shocked to see a ‘Zionist’ character join the Marvel Galaxy

The announcement last week that Israeli actress Shira Haas would be cast in the blockbuster ‘Captain America: New World Order’ as Sabra, an Israeli superheroine, sparked anger and outrage in the Arab world.

Indeed, many have claimed to be shocked to see a “Zionist” character join the Marvel galaxy.

First appearing in The Incredible Hulk comic in 1981, Sabra, whose real identity is Ruth Bat-Seraph, is a superpowered mutant working for the Mossad who fights in a white and blue suit, emblazoned with a Star of David on her chest

Educated in a kibbutz, Sabra is immune to bullets, can lift tanks and drive past cars. She has access to Mossad files and knows the secret identities and personal histories of a number of superheroes. Above all, she fiercely defends the rights of Jews and mutants.

The screenwriters of the time devised a tragic fate for her: her son, Jacob, was killed by Palestinian terrorists who attacked a school bus full of Israeli children. The government insisted that she did not interfere in the investigation, but Sabra went to Bethlehem anyway, where she arrested the perpetrators of the attack.

Admittedly, she is not a main character in the superhero universe. But we still got to see her fight alongside the X-Men, and in particular face the Hulk, who she mistakenly believed to be in cahoots with Arab terrorists operating in Israel.

Join Israel and Hollywood, nothing likes attracting the ire of opponents of the Jewish state. Gal Gadot has paid the price again recently, with boycotts of “Wonder Woman” movies in certain Arab countries.

And the announcement of Sabra’s presence in the next Captain America, to be released in 2024, was no exception, sparking an outcry from those who say they fear such a character could spread offensive stereotypes of Arabs and participate in ” the dehumanization” of Palestinians in the cinema.

Critics claim that many of the Arab characters she interacted with in the comic are portrayed as misogynistic, anti-Semitic and violent, and question whether the disturbing portrayals of Arabs will be the same in the film.

Worse, the Institute for Middle East Understanding, a pro-Palestinian NGO, condemned Sabra’s presence in the film, saying that “by glorifying the Israeli military and police, Marvel encourages Israel’s violence against Palestinians and allows the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians, who live. under Israel’s authoritarian military regime.”

Another source of tension lies in the name “Sabra”, which in Hebrew denotes a “Jewish citizen born in Israel”. However, this name is considered a provocation by the defenders of the Palestinian cause, who associate it with the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, two districts of Beirut, committed by Christian militias, then supported by Israel, during the war in Lebanon.

However, the announcement of the presence of the Israeli superheroine took place a week before the 40th anniversary of the tragedy. It was enough for calls for a boycott of the film to erupt on social networks.

Marvel tried to calm things down, recalling that Sabra was first introduced in the comics over 40 years ago, and assured that “the filmmakers will take a fresh approach” to the heroine.

“Characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are always reimagined to fit today’s cinema and audiences,” a studio spokesperson told CNN.

On the Israeli side, the presence of a superheroine member of the Mossad is seen as a public relations victory for the agency.

Avner Avraham, a former intelligence officer and founder of the Spy Legends agency, which consults on movies and TV shows featuring Israeli spies, told US media that this new portrayal of Sabra will allow the younger generation to get to know the Mossad better.

“It is the ‘TikTok’ way, the ‘cartoon’ way of talking to the new generation. They will learn the word ‘Mossad’,” he said. According to him, such exposure could even help Israeli intelligence recruit sources in other countries.

However, the “progressive” mindset of the Marvel galaxy raises concerns about how the hero will be treated.

Israeli cartoonist Uri Fink, who created a character called Sabraman in 1978, told Channel 12 that he’s not sure Marvel’s portrayal of Sabra “is positive in the wakeful times we’re going through right now.”

“The people working at Marvel today are all kinds of progressives. I have nothing against them, but we don’t want the most accurate portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

“I suggest that Shira (Haas) read the script carefully and make sure that the character is not portrayed too problematically,” added the designer.

With her fifty meters, her frail figure and her blonde and straight hair, the Israeli actress is physically far from Sabra, who in the cartoon has thick black curls and is 1.80 meters tall.

But that did not deter Marvel, seduced by the undeniable talent of the actress, revealed in Shtisel and the mini-series “Unorthodox”, broadcast on Netflix since 2020.

By accepting the role of Sabra, Shira Haas is offered a unique opportunity to achieve international stardom and follow in the footsteps of her compatriot Gal Gadot.

If it is still too early to know what sauce Sabra will be eaten in the next opus of “Captain America”, its presence on the screen will in any case be a nice kick-off for the militants in the boycott of Israel. Especially since we can predict, without taking too many risks, that the film should be a hit in cinemas around the world, with or without controversy.

Leave a Comment